Whether Jackie’s Warrior can stretch his tremendous speed out to a mile will be put to the test Saturday in the $250,000 Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park, a “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) prep as well as a point-scoring opportunity for the 2021 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Undefeated from three starts, the Steve Asmussen-trained Jackie’s Warrior looms a strong favorite on the back of a tremendous effort in the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga, in which he demolished the stakes recordwhile producing only the second sub-1:22 effort in the race’s 7-furlong incarnation, which dates to 1994.
“He handles everything well,” said assistant trainer Toby Sheets. “Just like his races are, that’s how he is. He’s done everything very professionally and he’s very straightforward. I don’t see the mile being an issue at all.”
Reinvestment Risk, second best in the Hopeful as an even-money favorite for Chad Brown, has the potential to turn the tables going an extra furlong.
“He’s doing super. I’m looking forward to getting him out another furlong. He’ll have no problem with more distance,” Brown said.
Besides Midnight Bourbon, runner-up in the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill for Asmussen, the remainder of the field have much improvement to show in order to contend. Among these are recent graduates Run Casper Run and Civil War, and the maiden Ambivalent, who stakes-placed over the Del Mar turf last out.
Asmussen has another serious player in Cantata for the $250,000 Frizette Stakes (G1), a corresponding “Win & You’re In” prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and 2021 Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifier. A daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, Cantata blew the doors off her rivals first out winning by 10 1/4 lengths at Saratoga with a stalk-and-pounce trip.
“She’s quite the individual,” Sheets said. “We’re looking forward to seeing her step up her game a little bit. She’s a racehorse. She does her job and has it down.”
The competitive field also includes Vequist, who captured the Spinaway (G1) by 9 1/4 lengths in what was a graduation effort in her second start.
“Her mother ran at a mile and an eighth and ran long, and so did (sire) Nyquist, so I think the further, the better with her,” said trainer Butch Reid of Vequist.
Dayoutoftheoffice has won easily in both starts, including a six-length romp in the Schuylerville (G3) early in the Saratoga meet. Joy’s Rocket, stakes-placed sprinting on the turf last out, won in the slop on debut and should be in the mix early. Fifth Risk, Get On the Bus, and Cilla complete the field.
The Champagne and Frizette will award Derby and Oaks points, respectively, of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers.